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Help Pass an Animal Abuser Registry Act in Your State

Help Pass an Animal Abuser Registry Act in Your State

Name: Animal Abuser Registry Act

A statewide animal abuser registry is a crucial tool to help law enforcement, shelters and adoption centers keep track of convicted abusers and prevent animals from falling into the hands of convicted abusers in the future. In 2015, Tennessee became the first to adopt an animal abuser registry.

If your state has not already introduced—or passed—a measure to create a statewide animal abuser registry, please contact your state legislators and ask them to sponsor a bill in your state.  

 

Call to Actions:

  1. Please contact your state Senator and Representative and urge them to support this important piece of legislation.
  2. Spread the word! Share this page with your social network.

 

Recipients

  • Your State Senator or Senators
  • Your State Representative or Representatives

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Message

Please support the establishment of a statewide animal abuser registry

Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to ask your support for legislation that would establish a statewide animal abuser registry.

The purpose of establishing an animal abuser registry is to provide a resource for law enforcement, shelters and adoption centers to help identify convicted animal abusers who are involved in new allegations of abuse or who are trying to adopt an animal who may then be put in harm's way. Access to this information is crucial in keeping companion animals out of the hands of convicted abusers.

In 2015, Tennessee became the first state to adopt a statewide animal abuser registry and, with similar legislation introduced in multiple states across the nation, it is clear that there is a strong public interest in establishing animal abuser registries. The creation of an animal abuser registry would better protect our animals and reduce the likelihood of convicted animal abusers victimizing animals in the future.

Below you will find a model law that you can use in drafting legislation.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope that you will give your full support to the passage of this measure before the end of the current legislative session.

Animal Abuser Registry Act

Sec. 1. Purpose
This Act recognizes that it is paramount to the safety and well-being of the community to deal seriously with crimes against animals and separate animal abusers from potential victims. The link between violence against animals and violence against human beings is well documented. Individuals who mistreat, abuse, or kill domestic animals or wildlife often extend that behavior to humans in the form of domestic violence, child abuse, and in certain cases, even murder. In addition to preventing crimes against humans, penalizing animal abusers and restricting their contact with animals also protects potential animal victims. Requiring abusers to register with their local law enforcement agency enhances this protection by warning members of the community, particularly pet owners and operators of animal adoption programs that a convicted animal abuser may be among them. It is intended to function in much the same way that sex-offender registries function in alerting concerned members of the public about the presence of convicted sex offenders. It will also put on notice potential employers who may be looking to hire an individual to work closely with animals in pet shops, shelters, or even animal laboratories.

Sec. 2. Definitions
For the purposes of this act:
"Violence" means any intentional act that physically harms or has the potential to physically harm an animal, including beating, striking, kicking, shooting, burning, maiming, mutilating, torturing, or killing.
"Domestic animal" means any companion animal kept as a pet, including but not limited to canines, felines, and rabbits, as well as equines and other domesticated animals kept and cared for by humans, whether or not raised for food.
"Wildlife" means any animal found in the wild and not kept as a pet or raised for human consumption, whether or not prey animals or predatory animals, including fowl of any type, raccoons, squirrels, and similar animals.
"Abuse" means any act that harms or has the potential to harm the physical safety or well-being of human beings or animals, including not only affirmative acts of violence but also neglect in the form of failure to provide necessary sustenance and shelter, exposure to unsafe levels of hot or cold temperatures, severe confinement, or abandonment.
"Contact with animals" means owning, keeping, possessing, or caring for an animal, whether on one's own property or the property of another or whether the animal is owned by another individual, or residing in the same household as a companion animal.
"Animal adoption programs" includes adoption activities of any animal shelter, humane society or other organization that seeks owners for homeless companion animals from among the public.

Sec. 3. Abuser Contact with Animals Prohibited
(a) Misdemeanor Offenses

1. A person convicted of a Misdemeanor violation of the state's animal cruelty and neglect laws must, in addition to any other penalty imposed by law, undergo mandatory psychological counseling which includes counseling in responsible pet ownership. The person may also be required to complete an anger management program at the court's discretion, depending upon the nature of the offense.
(A) In addition to counseling, the court may order a person convicted of a Misdemeanor violation to relinquish his or her animal or animals to a humane society either permanently or until such time as the person satisfactorily completes the required counseling or training program and is determined by the sentencing court fit to care for animals.
2. A person convicted of a second Misdemeanor violation of the state's animal cruelty and neglect laws shall be subject to permanent forfeiture of the animal or animals that were the subject of the violation and shall be prohibited from owning, possessing, or otherwise having contact with companion or domestic animals for a period of five (5) years. The public or private agency having custody of the forfeited animal(s) may assume ownership upon seizure and may dispose of the animal either by adoption or humane euthanasia if it determines that the animal's injuries or ailments are so severe that meaningful recovery and adoptability are not possible.
3. A person convicted of a third and subsequent misdemeanor violation, in addition to the forfeiture provisions in Section 3(a)(2) above, shall be prohibited from owning, possessing, or having contact with companion or domestic animals for ten (10) years.

(b) Felony Offenses

1. A person convicted of a violation of the state's Felony animal cruelty laws must, in addition to any other penalty imposed by law, undergo mandatory psychiatric counseling and anger management training. A person convicted for a first offense under this section shall be required to permanently forfeit the animal or animals that were the subject of the offense (if living) and shall be prohibited from owning, possessing, or otherwise having contact with companion or domestic animals for a period of ten (10) years. The public or private agency having custody of the forfeited animal(s) may assume ownership upon seizure and dispose of the animal either by adoption or humane euthanasia if it determines that the animal's injuries or ailments are so severe that meaningful recovery and adoptability are not possible.
(A) After the completion of the mandatory ten-year prohibition on contact with animals, and only if incurring no further Misdemeanor or Felony animal-related convictions including violation of this statute, persons subject to Section 3(b)(1) may petition the sentencing court for a restoration of the right to own or possess a companion or domestic animal. In determining whether to grant the petition, the court shall consider the following:

1) The nature of the offense for which the petitioner was convicted;

2) Whether the petitioner has satisfactorily completed the conditions imposed by the court for the prior conviction, including psychiatric counseling;

3) The petitioner's general criminal record, including any Misdemeanor or Felony convictions subsequently incurred whether or not related to animals; and

4) Any other matters the court considers material in determining the likelihood of a recurrence of the abuse.


2. A person convicted of a second or subsequent Felony violation of the state's animal cruelty laws, in addition to the forfeiture provisions in Section 3(b)(1) above, shall be permanently prohibited from owning, possessing, or otherwise having contact with companion or domestic animals so long as a resident of this state.


Sec. 4. Registration of Convicted Animal Abusers
(a) A person convicted of a Misdemeanor cruelty or neglect violation must, within seven (7) days of the conviction, register with his or her local law enforcement agency the following information:

1. Legal name and any aliases used
2. Date of birth
3. Race
4. Gender
5. Home address
6. Nature of the offense and date(s) of the offense

1. The law enforcement agency shall provide this information, in addition to a current photograph and set of fingerprints for the offender, to the Attorney General of the state, who shall make it available to: (A) Other law enforcement entities within the state including animal control agencies, (B) Humane societies, animal shelters, animal-welfare organizations, and other groups involved in companion animal adoption programs, and (C) Animal breeders and retail operators that sell pets.
2. Upon completion of court-ordered counseling or training, a person convicted of a first offense under this section may, after five (5) years with no additional violations, petition the court to be removed from the mandated registry. Persons convicted of a second or subsequent offense may not petition to be removed from the registry and shall continue to incur an obligation to register as long as they remain residents of the state.
3. Persons subject to the registry requirement must notify their local law enforcement agency at such time as they move to another address within the state, within ten (10) days of the change of address.
4. Under no circumstances shall information about a person required to register pursuant to Section 4(a) be made available to the general public or any individuals or entities not enumerated in Section 4(a)(1) above.

(b) A person convicted of a Felony cruelty or neglect violation must, within seven (7) days of the conviction, register with his or her local law enforcement agency the following information:

1. Legal name and any aliases used
2. Date of birth
3. Race
4. Gender
5. Home address
6. Nature of the offense and date(s) of the offense


1. The law enforcement agency shall provide this information, in addition to a current photograph and set of fingerprints for the offender, to the state Attorney General, who shall make it available to: (A) Other law enforcement entities within the state including animal control agencies, (B) Humane societies, animal shelters, animal-welfare organizations, and other groups involved in companion animal adoption programs, and (C) Animal breeders and retail operators that sell pets.
2. Persons subject to the registry requirement must notify their local law enforcement agency at such time as they move to another address within the state, within ten (10) days of the change of address.
3. Persons subject to this section may not petition to be removed from the registry and shall continue to incur an obligation to register as long as they remain residents of the state.
4. The Attorney General shall make information collected concerning persons required to register pursuant to Section 4(b), including current photographs, available to the public via an Internet Web site to be maintained by the Attorney General's Office. The Office shall update the Web site on an ongoing basis and translate its contents into languages other than English as it sees fit.


Sec. 5. Enforcements and penalties
Violation of any section of this statute is a Misdemeanor punishable by not more than one (1) year in jail and/or a fine of not more than $______.

Sec. 6. Exemptions
Nothing in this statute shall be construed as affecting or referring to legalized hunting and trapping activities, the humane slaughter of animals for food in a licensed establishment, or the humane euthanasia of animals by a licensed veterinarian.


Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]